Monday, May 16, 2011

*Dapping with Herring Under a Bridge at Night

It's the latest craze - and it is entirely awesome. Near my house is a 7' channel that drains a large salt pond. Over the channel is a railroad line and stone bridge with large stepped abutments that make the most delightful perch 4 feet above water. On an outgoing tide, and when it is very dark, beneath the abutment there be striped bass that pop and roll in the moonlight. It is a weirdly magical scene. But angling here is the good part, as it really is angling. The outgoing tide moves left-right and the fish are often only a half rod-length away. Think about that: you're 4' above the water facing a 7' wide channel, sitting down on a nice stone chair, with stripers rising at your feet. Aided by the stone acoustics, the fish pop so loud it's kinda scary, like you're in  the wrong place at someone else's dinner time. Water sprays up when the bass inhale shrimp and other meals - you get a smelly striper shower. It's a unique place.

Casting for these fish, in the traditional sense, doesn't much work. One needs to channel one's deepest Huck Finn. A sort of *dapping approach seems to work, with only 3 feet of fly line protruding to a short leader (it's all rather comical, like dangling a fake spider from a tree, but with a stone tuffet. In fact, when a train streams past it fair scares the crap out from me.) A quick flip up-stream sets the cast under the bridge, then, being a righty, the rod goes over my left shoulder then lowered down and threaded up underneath and inside the bridge. Thus the fly drifts down to the fish, which, let's remember, are under my feet. I feel like some kind of performance artist explaining this shit. 

I caught four bass on various flies this way, walking each gracefully down my sandstone steps for a release akin to the perennially dapper (!) Peter Bowles retrieving The Daily Telegraph from his door step in To the Manor Born.  Next time I'm thinking the smoking jacket, cravat and slippers.

Rare photograph of English Jonny and his Wife
The next toy to play with was a 12" herring fly given to me by friend and uber-enthusiast Steve Culton. You know him; he's very tall with an audible smile. His herring looked great in the water; flowing broadside it looked like a big lazy fish. But damn, if it didn't take on a new life when fished just like a jig! Because, dearest Culvertites, this fly is 100% flexible being as it is tied in the flat-wing-stylee-of-yore. If one emulates the jigger man, with line dead vertical, you can make the "fly" do loops and circles around itself, just like a real fish if it were riddled with mad cow disease. From my perch, I could make this toy perform intricate synchronized patterns right under the rod tip. That it didn't draw a strike is wholly incidental, I'm sure you'll agree.

See you under The Bridge.


*Patent pending. I'm thinking of calling this Culvert Nymphing to keep track with the modern malaise for similarly bogus inventions.


  1. I was wondering how your experiment went. If only I lived closer to a few of those stone bridges....

  2. You have a car, don't you? Quite a nice one I recall.

  3. Name a time and place, my friend.

  4. "Culvert Nymphing"...I like it. Along the line of Ditch Dry Dropping.

  5. Culvert Wet Dropping might be perfect. Reminds me of a medieval French latrine.

    Steve - TAC Staff Retreat, Thursday through Thursday; morning, noon and night.